In April of 2013 I completed another triathlon. It was a sprint triathlon with the distances of 400M, 20KM, and 5KM respectively in that order. I was surprised how many fast people were at this race because I ended up taking 85th out of around 600 with an overall time of 1:09:34. The swim was a pool swim and affected in waves. It was also a snaking path around buoys, which was something new to me. Time penalties were given for wall touches or wall pushoffs.
This created an open-water-like swim but with a lot more buoys to fight around. The first swimmers in the water were the assisted triathletes. That was fun to watch, and see how excited the regular triathletes were to support them. Then at 8:00 a.m. on the dot, the first wave started. As always, those were the fast elite athletes. The race organized you in swim pace waves with the fastest swimmers at the beginning and the slowest swimmers at the end. I was somewhere in the middle. There were two really young kids in my wave doing the swim leg on a relay team, and luckily only one of them had a faster swim time than I did. My swim start time was exactly 14 minutes after the start of the race. That made it easier at the end to figure out my finishing time. Just subtract 14 minutes.
The swim went rather well, and I had the fastest time in my wave except for the afore mentioned young kid, and I got out of the water the same time he did. My time was 7:41 for the 400 meters. Not my fastest swimming, but I had also not been practicing as much as I should have. One interesting thing about this layout for the swim was the method for going around the buoys. Some did back rolls, others did frog like kicks, but most just treaded water and turned around. This slowed the turns considerably. It caused a log jam of people. After I got out of the pool, it was a more recognizable and thus more comfortable race. The transition area was long and skinny. I didn’t like it much. They had also put the bikes in order of the bib numbers. I had gotten to the race almost too late, and luckily just put my bike where I could and it was only one row away from my designated place. Since I had sold my triathlon bike before our move, I did this race with detachable tri-bars and a triathlon seat on my road bike. In practice I had noticed that this was a considerably better method than just always riding in the drops, and the tri-saddle facilitated the bent over position. I had also taken off my clip-less pedals and put some cages on so that I would only have to change shoes once. Since the bike portion was only 12.4 miles, the added speed effectiveness from the clip-less shoes would not be noticed as much in the overall time. Plus the faster times in transition would more than likely compensate for that. Thus, my transition times were great.
During the bike portion I was passing lots of people. I didn’t think I was going that fast, but for whatever the reason, I didn’t get passed by anybody, but passed nearly 100 people. I maintained a 22 mph pace and had a few individuals that were with me throughout the bike, but in the end I was pleased with my performance. There were some places that I could have pushed harder, but as is always the case with a bike portion of a triathlon, I get scared to push hard because of my cramping issue on the run. The course actually ended up being around 12.6 miles, and really pretty flat. When I finished the bike, I just took off my helmet and hung up my bike and started the run. One thing that was noticed from this was the immediate shock my calves and quads felt from this quicker than normal transition. I was in good enough shape to run, but I felt the twinges of cramps coming in both places. I had to dial it back a little bit at the first of the run just to assure that my legs would get in the groove and not cramp. I was mad. About a mile into the run however, I was able to stretch it out, and get it up to my normal speed. The course was a 2-lap course, and after I completed the first lap, I was really tempted to jump across the finish line. I was buoyed though on the second lap seeing my wife and son cheering for me.
My son was really excited to see me. That was one great thing about this event. It was a great spectator location. Nearing the end of the run, I noticed a guy passing me that I had started the race with. I definitely knew him to be older and my competitive nature kicked in to help me kick it out to the end.
I paced right behind him until the end and then kicked past him in the last 100 yards. I was glad that he came along when he did, because considering my overall time; I think he helped me stay under 1:10:00. Overall, the race was a success, and I am glad that I did it. Driving to Richmond from DC on a Friday afternoon was not a good idea, and getting to the race a little late was also not a good idea. Using my running shoes on the bike leg, and not wearing gloves were however, a good idea. It was also a good idea to add clip on tri-bars, and a tri-saddle to my ordinary road bike. All in all, I can now say that I have done a triathlon in 3 different states. Now I will work on increasing the number of countries.